Which is the best file system to use with the major three operating systems in 2016 (looking for a FS for a hard drive that all my computers can rsync to? I read exFAT and NTFS as suggestions but those topics were all quite old.
What is the status in 2016?

P.S. Sorry if this is a duplicate, I tried to find a more recent post about this topic. O:-)

  • superuser.com/questions/45130/cross-platform-file-system did you happen to come across this answer? – DrZoo Dec 28 '16 at 18:36
  • As far as I know, the only surefire option is FAT32. There seems to be uncertainty with exFAT and NTFS on some OS's, or they are Read-Only. – DrZoo Dec 28 '16 at 18:44
  • I have found that exFAT is terrific when moving between Windows and OS X, and you can easily install a utility on your Linux machine that will allow it to work there, also. – Run5k Dec 28 '16 at 18:49
  • Well known Linux distros can handle both. If you have some random trimmed down version of Debian, sometimes it can only handle FAT32. – Marius Tancredi Dec 28 '16 at 18:56
  • @DrZoo Yes, I did but I thought there might be some new insights now ... – lx4r Dec 28 '16 at 19:37

There is, unfortunately, still no good answer to this question. None of the filesystems natively supported by either macOS or Windows have ideal properties on all three operating systems:

  • APFS is only supported on macOS.

  • ExFAT is supported on Windows and macOS, but requires a FUSE driver on Linux.

  • FAT32 is supported on all three operating systems, but has serious limitations: it cannot represent files larger than 4GB, and performs very poorly on large volumes. (Current versions of Windows will refuse to format a drive larger than 32GB as FAT32 at all.)

  • HFS+ is supported on macOS and Linux, but Linux is hesitant to mount journalled HFS+ volumes as read-write, and it is not supported on Windows at all without third-party tools.

  • NTFS is marginally supported by all three operating systems: it's native for Windows, read-only on macOS, and requires a FUSE driver on Linux.

  • ReFS is only supported on Windows.

  • UDF is intended for read-only media (like DVDs), so it's not useful for your purposes.

  • UFS support was removed from macOS 10.6 (2011), and was never natively supported on Windows.

  • 1
    FYI, there is 3rd party NTFS read/write support on Mac. Just google for: ntfs mac. – stason Sep 11 at 2:16

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